11-15-2015, 11:23 AM
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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Does anyone know how soap was first made; or made in the 1500s or so? You know...the old days.

It is clear that animal fats such as tallow and lard were available.  But what was their source of lye [NaOH]?  The purification of NaOH is not likely to have been known then.

Any ideas?  Any recommended sources?

The best I can find in Wikipedia:

A lye is a liquid obtained by leaching ashes (containing largely potassium carbonate or "potash"), or a strong alkali which is highly soluble in water producing caustic basic solutions. "Lye" is commonly the alternative name of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or historically potassium hydroxide (KOH).

1 796
 11-15-2015, 11:52 AM
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Tallow from animal fat; lye from leaching wood ashes.  Legend has soap first turned up by itself to the Romans from the burnt animal sacrificing rituals on Sapone Hill.

3 543
 11-15-2015, 11:53 AM
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 11-15-2015, 01:27 PM
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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Babylonians were the first one to master the art of soap making. They made soap from fats boiled with ashes. Soap was used in cleaning wool and cotton used in textile manufacture and was used medicinally for at least 5000 years.


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